A fiery combination of heat, drought and a multi-year accumulation of dense, dry underbrush all contributed to the rapid spread of the arson-caused Station Fire, the largest fire in Los Angeles County's modern history. On August 26, 2009, the Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) instrument onboard NASA's Terra satellite captured this image, along with 3D information about the fire's smoke plume, which climbed more than 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) up into the atmosphere. The wind is blowing from the lower left toward the upper right in this image, and in addition to the whitish-brown smoke, a band of gray-white cloud appears to bend around the heat island caused by the fire.
Wildfire activity in the western U.S. has increased markedly since the mid-1980s, with more frequent large fires and longer fire seasons. Climate models predict increased wildfire risk across many areas of the globe in coming decades.
Image taken by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on NASA's Terra satellite on August 30, 2009.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team.